Louis Quilico (1925-2000)

1999 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music)

"The purest of baritones", both in quality of voice and spirit, opera singer Louis Quilico has had a distinguished 45 - year career. He has sung throughout Canada and on all the great stages of Europe and the United States, including 25 consecutive years at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

Numbered among the greatest singers of our time, he's performed with Corelli, Domingo, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Tebaldi, Price and many others. No one in the highly-charged world of opera could outsing him.

His singing has an unaffected assurance based on his fundamental understanding of the physicality that produces his robust and beautiful sound. Talking of one of the world's most difficult art forms, he makes the complicated interplay between "vocal cords, breath, and muscle" sound easy: "The sound is just a natural result of what you're trying to do." His many great roles, among them Scarpia, Renato, and his signature role, Rigoletto (which he performed 510 times), are infused with an instinctive understanding of the deep complexities of human emotions.

Innumerable distinguished awards include Companion of the Order of Canada, an honorary doctorate from the Université du Québec, and a street in Montreal named after him.